Mother’s Day 2018: More Like 2003

IMG_1423Though we scheduled our Mother’s Day as usual, the actual meal did not go as planned. Uncle Flor and Aunty Amy could not attend because of illness; Lynnette’s nephew Aidan was also sick and did not come to lunch. Worst of all, Avery ran all over the courtyard the entire time we were meant to eat the delicious Orchids buffet. She was chased by myself, Lynnette, Lynnette’s parents, and Lynnette’s cousin Jenn. Suboptimal.

IMG_9258Speaking of chasers, Lynnette kicked off Monther’s Day weekend by taking us back to 2003. We were invited to a surprise engagement party last night and for a few hours, Lynnette unleashed whatever shreds of pre-marriage, pre-mortgage, pre-kids Lynnette she has left inside of her and it. was. glorious.

***Mother’s Day Exclusive***
Party Lynnette: The Definitive Guide

1-Drink Lynnette: No commitments have been made. Maybe she’s just being social, could be partying. We gotta see, yet. I have a 10% chance of getting lucky. When describing drinks, she sounds like: Oh. That’s good.

3-Drink Lynnette: While there still exists the possibility she could slam on the brakes, three drinks is a pretty good indication that a good time will be had by all. My personal favorite Lynnette. She starts doing that shoulder shifting thing that she considers dancing and I consider sexy.  I have a 50% chance of getting lucky. When describing drinks, she sounds like: Oh, my God, this is soooo good!

5-Drink Lynnette: There’s no going back. We’re partying. I can either get with the program or get the hell out of the way. She rapped Left Eye’s verse on “Waterfall” and I have video of it but she won’t let me post it because “[her] co-workers and friends would lose respect for [her].” To which the obvious rebuttal is “No, they will have more respect for you after seeing you flawlessly drop hot, off-key bars. I have a 25% chance of getting lucky. When describing drinks, she sounds like: What is this? Whatever!

8-Drink Lynnette: Rare territory. She’s laughing at all my jokes. She’s making her own questionable jokes. She and I took shots with our arms entwined and I have a picture of it but she won’t let me post it because “[it’s] terrible.” She looked at her phone two hours ago and said “What did I take video of?” I have a 0% chance of getting lucky. When describing drinks, she sounds like: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Lynnette got to that final level last night and our car ride home was just like old times in that only one of us was conscious. She was amazing last night, then shrugged off the pain to put on her mom hat like she does every single day. What an incredible 24-hour stretch from Lynnette. Happy Mother’s Day, Lynnette. Between your rapping and chasing Avery around the courtyard in your dress, just an epic mom performance.

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Damien Monarchs: 2018 Division II Baseball State Champions

At the end of last year’s Baseball State Championship game, after I watched our lead evaporate in the top of the 7th inning, after the Kauai team spilled out from the dugout to celebrate its championship, I stood in silence. Arms raised, fingers locked behind my head. Did that just happen? 

I have spent over half my life at Damien. I played varsity baseball for three years. I was the head coach of the JV baseball team for two years. I have served as an assistant baseball coach on the varsity team under 4 different head coaches. That’s thousands of memories and the overwhelming majority of them are of frustration and failing and disappointment and anger and exhaustion and losing. Basically just the first verse – but none of the chorus – of Queen’s “We Are the Champions”. And because of all this, I had been conditioned to fear that such a thing as a baseball state championship was simply an impossible dream. That endings like last year’s state championship game, this year’s football and basketball state championship games were just plot points in an immutable script that we were never allowed to deviate from. Not anymore.

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The Damien Monarchs are the 2018 Division II Baseball State Champions. They did it.


IMG_9166I saw the koa trophy with our assistant athletic director through the throng of family and friends in the jubilant post-game celebration. I walked over so I could touch it and – I don’t know – make sure it was real. “Do you want to take a picture with it?” she asked. “No,” I said, because I knew if I held it I would cry. “You gotta, Phil!” Chris, a Damien alum, player, and fellow coach said. “Let’s go, Phil!” DJ, a Damien alum, player, and fellow coach said. And so we did. And so I ugly cried and my current students are already making fun of me.

What I’m trying to say is this: If you are standing on a sandy shore looking out toward the ocean, the crisp blue-green of the ocean ends in a taut line where it appears to meet the dull blue of the sky. That razor-thin line between the two is the exact difference between a dream and its manifestation in reality. And though that point on the horizon can seem impossibly far off or people tell us that it’s just an illusion and life often teaches us the harsh lesson that we might never be able to reach it, yesterday we did.

To the 2018 Monarch Baseball Team,
Congratulations! You overcame every obstacle laid in your path. You brought a state title – our first – to Houghtailing Street. Thank you so much for making a fellow Monarch’s 23 year-old dream come true.

Viriliter Age,
-Higa

Prom 2018

IMG_8832IMG_8833IMG_8834IMG_8835IMG_8836IMG_8837IMG_8838IMG_8839IMG_8840IMG_8846In the months then weeks leading up to prom, I was besieged by students asking for advice. Well, they weren’t asking for advice as much as looking for someone to listen to their multi-tiered “What if?” theories centered on the anxiety of asking someone or being asked by someone to prom. It was tiring to be honest, but I was patient because I could relate.

A long time ago, I too felt my heart threaten to punch through my rib cage as tiny beads of sweat appeared on my nose and upper lip as I built up the courage to tell a woman that I had helplessly and completely fallen in love with her despite the complicated circumstances in which we found ourselves. I would learn, however, that my heart was capable of an even faster pace when she told me she felt the same way.

And so my advice to my students who asked me for it was simple: shoot your shot. At best, they say “yes”; at worst you have a story. But if you’re really lucky, you’ll get both.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

IMG_1191IMG_1197Saturday was my dad’s birthday and no one was more excited about that than Cole. When I called my dad to wish him a happy birthday, Cole shouted into the phone several times. “Happy bur-day, Gram-pa!” he repeated. “Thanks, Rolly-Coley, we gonna blow out candles tomorrow?” my dad replied. “Blow out candle!” Cole repeated with glee. It was all he talked about today on our long route to my parents’ house.

“Happy bur-day, Gram-pa!” he said as we headed toward Launani Valley to hit up a new playground. “Happy bur-day, Gram-pa!” he said as we drove past my parents’ house toward Pearlridge to pick up his cake. “Happy bur-day, Gram-pa!” Cole shouted as I stopped off at Safeway to pick up some milk for he and Avery. By the time we finally arrived at my parents’ house, he was ready to explode with Happy birthdayness.

One of my dad’s alter egos is the “Baron of Beef” because of his deep, deep love of beef. So for lunch today the Baron made himself some prime rib and shared it with his royal and loyal subjects. Believe it or not, one of my dad’s other alter egos is the “Chancellor of Chocolate” because well, you get the idea, already. So we got him the dobash cake from Zippy’s. “6-inch or 8-inch?” the woman said as I put in the order. “Pfftt!” I exclaimed. “What kind of silly question is that? Do you know whom this cake is for? It is for the Chancellor of Chocolate! The 8-inch is fine, but only because you have not a 12-inch!” Okay, I didn’t say that. I only said the first four words of the last sentence. But both Zippy’s and my dad would have deserved it.

At the end of the day, my dad ate the loads of prime rib and dobash cake, and he let my kids blow out his candles on his cake on his birthday because in addition to his role Baron of Beef and the Chancellor of Chocolate, he spent most of his life being the Finest of Fathers. It’s what he does.

Happy birthday, dad. Thank you for being a great dad and great grandfather.

No Beach But Plenty of Laughs

img_8470I returned to the softball field on Sunday and am thrilled to report that I did not make a full ass of myself. I didn’t have any hits but made the two plays on balls hit to a spot on the field that I should have gotten to. My stomach is as big an obstacle as ever in terms of getting my glove down, but it didn’t really hurt today. I did manage to scrape some skin off my right leg in the exact spot where I suffered my most painful and embarrassing injury, but this time it did not require a trip to the emergency room. High-fives all around.

More exciting, however, is my burgeoning relationship with the twins. I’ve been busy with work after school and have been getting home pretty late as a result. Cole and Avery are actually happy to see me! When I get home, Cole is waiting for me at the top of the stairs with shouts of “Daddy!” and Avery waves and says “hi!” to me when I get into the living room.

“Sit down!” Cole says before I can do anything else. He dumps out his puzzles featuring the numbers 1-9 and has me call out numbers for him to repeat and place in the frame. “What is daddy’s favorite number?” I ask him. “Eight!” he says through his nanny. Avery will than swoop in and shove my face back so that I lay flat on the ground. Then she climbs on to my chest and smiles. “How was your day? What did you do?” I ask. I have been asking her these questions since she was only a few months old and I suppose to her this represents our personal game. She’s recently thrown in the new wrinkle of diving straight down into my chest at the end of the second question. On Thursday night, she headbutted my chin and I think I caught the worse of that exchange. Cole saw this and I don’t know, maybe he thought we were wrestling or something because he launched himself at my crotch and scored a direct hit. But I couldn’t sit up because Avery was had planted herself on my chest so all I could do was scream then groan as the twins won that handicapped match.

img_8485-1They’re about 7 months away from turning 3 and they’re both coming into their own. Cole’s is a novice food critic and has only two grades for the food we offer him: “delicious” and “ew, gross”. Avery, of course, has no such issue with food. She’ll eat just about anything. Today she toted a doughnut hole around the house long after Cole had eaten his. Avery jogged around the house with the doughnut hole clenched in her left hand as Cole chased close behind shouting “Gimme dat!” It was something to behold. I caught this picture of them wrestling for the vaunted dessert. It should come as no surprise that Abby monitored the events closely should the treat accidentally fall to the floor. Also, of course, Avery didn’t give up the doughnut hole. You can’t get between her and her food, man. Better luck next time, Cole Boy.

img_8454And yet the highlight of my weekend didn’t come from these two rascals. No, that honor goes to my amazing wife.

As we drove to Kapolei Saturday night for those doughnut holes, she asked Madison if she would like to go to Damien. It was the very first time Lynnette ever pressed Mad about it like this, so intensely. Madison was concerned not with travel or education, but whether or not Damien women are required to wear pleated skirts. “No, Mad,” I said. “They wear shorts now.” Mad was bummed. But Lynnette came to her rescue. “I’ll give you one of mine,” she said. “I still have one of my Maryknoll skirts,” she said. Now, Lynnette will probably kill me for typing what I am going to reveal next, but screw it, it’s worth it. Also, if I am dead tomorrow, Lynnette totally did it and it was totally justified.

“What? Why?” I asked about the skirt.
“It’s just one and I have it in a box downstairs,” she said.
“What for? It’s not like you’re going to wear it,” I said.
“What if it’s worth something one day? What if I become famous and invent something?” she fired back.
“WHAT?!” I shouted.

Madison was already in hysterics in the back of the van. This led to Cole and Avery laughing, too, even thought they had no idea what kind of hoarder their mother is.

“I can’t… I can’t even follow that train of thought and I have no reply,” I said.
“Shut up, Phil,” Lynnette said.

I love you so much, Lynnette. Thank you for that and thank you for all of the massage treatment of my achy body today. I will set bobby traps in the room just in case you come to snuff me out in the middle of the night. But I love you so much!

 

Madison’s First Phone

Obviously, this rite of passage happened sooner than Lynnette and I planned. Madison slept over at my parents’ house last night on a whim, and she’s got to stay after school later this week for a science team tryout. She’s also gone out with some of her friends’ families on the weekend. There are work arounds that would/could have precluded this bold step, but none of them were as convenient as just getting Madison her own phone, already. OK, maybe I was also tired of fighting the inevitable.

img_8346Is it the smart phone she’s been badgering us about since she figured out how to use an iPad? No, thank God. But as you can tell by her wry smile here, she was happy just to get a phone to call her own. She’s 10 and she’s got her very own flip phone and if she somehow gets a smart phone at any point in the next decade, then she’ll outpace my father who used a non-smart phone for his first 6 or so two-year contracts with Sprint. Incredible.

She’s spent the afternoon acquainting herself with the phone and has already taken to it quicker than I could have ever imagined:

img_8383That first exchange came when her phone was first activated. She beamed from ear to ear the first time Lynnette called her phone and they had a 30-second conversation while they were about 5 feet away from each other.

As we drove home from our errands, I was in the passenger seat whispering sweet somethings into Lynnette’s ear and rubbing her right shoulder. That’s when Madison texted me from the back seat at 12:58. I laughed out loud when I read it. “Dummy.” I said. “Don’t call my daughter ‘dummy’,” Lynnette said. When we came to a red light, I showed Lynnette the message and she scoffed and said “dummy.” Madison cackled in the backseat and the sound of her evil laughter sent me adrift into thoughts of what exactly have I done?

And then, finally, as we watched Pitch Perfect 2, she messaged me to remind me that the fateful scene with the Green Bay Packers – the scene which ended her support of the Dallas Cowboys – was up next. It was then that I knew exactly what I had done: given a troll another way to get to me.

Lynnette posted about Mad’s big step on Facebook and the comments rolled in. Here are some of the best, followed by my response.

“Good luck!” -Lynie, Lynnette’s sister.
Sigh.

“She’s growing up!!!” -Corrie, my cousin.
Sigh.

“Whyyyyyyyy!?!” -Paul, my brother
It’s human nature.

“Hello Madison. Call or text Papa.” -Lynnette’s dad
Thanks for the support?

“Does she want Jeremiah’s number?” -Chris, my friend, referring to his son
We can’t be friends anymore.

“Oh wow! We’re trying to hold off as long as we can with our daughter. BUT, like you guys, might be sooner rather than later.” -Hazel, Lynnette’s friend
Good luck to you.

“OMG” – Jane, my friend
FML.

“Look forward to texting her!” Chelsea, Lynnette’s cousin
Geez.

img_8379I have no idea if Madison is ready for a phone or any of the many added responsibilities the next few years will bring, but the only way were ever find out anything is by trying. Like everything else, I suppose there will be some growing pains and like always, we’ll push through them. For now, we’ll see if she can go without losing it or letting Cole and/or Avery get their sticky hands on it for the first week.

I don’t know. I look at this picture – the phone, the jewelry, the nail polish, and the smirk – and I know she’s growing up. We can’t fight it, so I figure it’s best to support it. Personally, the troll in me – the same one that’s taught Mad so well in the dark/dork arts – can’t wait for her to figure out that we’ve bought her a very long leash masquerading as a phone. She ought to get a real kick out of that one.

38 & 10

IMG_8185IMG_8194IMG_8202Though I am pretty sure Lynnette had ulterior motives – urged on perhaps, by her tongue and stomach – my lovely wife was adamant about taking Madison and me out for dinner on Saturday night. We dropped of the twins at Aunty Joy and Uncle Reyn’s before heading out to The Buffet at the Hyatt. The newish buffet checks all of my boxes: prime rib, king crab legs, and sushi and sashimi. They also feature a 25% Kamaaina discount, so there was a lot to like.

It was wonderful to celebrate with Mad and Lynnette without Cole and Avery doing 2-year old type things. It allowed me to focus on seeing how much sushi, sashimi, and crab I could fit into my body. Madison got dressed up, got a hair cut, and got her hair done up by Lynnette. If that wasn’t enough for the my self-proclaimed “tweenager”, the array of desserts put her over the top. “Man, your doctor’s gonna be mad at you,” she said as she watched me fill my small bowl with soft-serve ice cream. The kid know too damn much.

I made the tactical error of not preparing my appetite for the buffet beforehand. For over a week, Lynnette implored Madison and me to tell her where we wanted to eat, but Madison always replied “I don’t know” (she really is a tweenager!) and I had other things occupying my mind space. We didn’t decide where to eat until the afternoon, and by then I had already eaten a normal lunch. Just poor planning on my part. Next time.

Thank you, Lynnette and Madison, for a great evening. It was a nice, if momentary, throwback to the Era of Peace. Thank you, Uncle Reyn and Aunty Joy for volunteering to watch the twins. That’s twice without tears! I think Cole and Avery really like you guys!

IMG_8229IMG_8240I wrote at the start of this year that I hoped my relationship with Madison would improve, and in truth, it hasn’t gotten noticeably better. Sadly, it currently reminds me of the adversarial relationship I had with my mom during my own youth. Like my mom and me, Madison and I are alike in all the worst ways. We’re stubborn. We have our own ideas about things that don’t align. We just want to be left alone even though we both know we’re not going to be left alone.

It’s a weird time. Mad’s growing and has ideas and interest of her own that don’t intersect with mine. She’s talking about starting a YouTube channel and at the same time (probably because of the dominance of the twins in our lives), she seems mired in childish activities. I yearn for simplicity and Madison often behaves in ways that appear in direct opposition to that hope. I hate, hate, hate the way we often speak to each other in tones of anger and exasperation.

I like to think of myself as a reasonable, fair man. I like to think that I am flexible and even-keeled, but Madison tests all of those self-held beliefs. It seems so far away, now, but she was my best friend. My sidekick and partner in crime. Time and circumstance have pulled us apart and despite my best efforts, I am no closer to a solution. Or her.

Today, I am more terrified than ever that I am going to lose her. When I blew out my candle today, I didn’t wish for a Mets win (which I often do). I didn’t wish for AJ Styles to retain the WWE championship (guys, I know it’s not real). I wished for something to pull us back together. As frustrating and draining as our relationship often is, I refuse to give up hope. She’s the best birthday gift I ever received, and every year on this day, I am reminded of that simple fact.

Madison,
If you are reading this, I don’t know how or why we fell apart this way. And maybe you think that I have an answer for everything but I don’t have answer for us. I am trying. I really am. All I can tell you is that I love you so much, and that I will never ever give up on you. Happy birthday, Goobi.

Love,
Dads